Sample graphic novel script - looking for honest feedback!
I wrote this script with the intent of making a graphic novel for education - the notes in between will allude to the educational/vocab building aspect of the novel.
This is my first time writing a script and I'd appreciate any feedback at all.
[Overview of plot]
Time traveling theme. Protagonist goes back into (current day) time only to discover he belongs in this period, and has to uncover what he was doing in the future (he canít remember).
Characters in this sequence:
Protagonist- Sharp features, strong jaw. Dark hair. Very handsome, mid-20s, eyes give away brashness/smugness of youth.
Thug 1- Tan, Italian-American looking. Built.
Thug 2- lighter skin, slightly smaller built.
Antagonist Ė Thin lips, dark circles. Closer in appearance to protagonist, except age. Mid 30s. Neck hugging hair. Smokerís body Ė tall/jaunty. Carries a cane. Likes to accessorize (long coat, hat and so forth). Eccentric and sophisticated. Confidence and well-paced in speech.
[Overview of scene]
Protagonist is held captive in an abandoned warehouse. He meets the antagonist along with his goons, they have a verbal confrontation followed by a physical one. Antagonist humiliates and defeats the protagonist and leaves the protagonist trapped while he lights the warehouse on fire. At the end the audience learns the protagonist has the ability to see in the dark (supernatural). End scene.
Scene is set in a room without much light. Mood is gloomy, suspense filled. Reader is literally kept in the ďdarkĒ, and can slightly imply it is an abandoned warehouse.
Mostly black screen (audio effects will allude to a hanging lamp thatís creaking as it swings).
Very dim/soft yellow light emanates from the top overlooking the protagonist
(Artist is free to choose angle of the panel)
Transition: jump cut to page 2 (player taps on ipad/clicks mouse)
Close up horizontal shot of the light fixture creaking, flickering on/off.
Artist Note : draw 3 separate frames of the hanging lamp. First, 10 degrees to the right, second in the middle, and third 10 degrees to left to signify swinging. The light is soft yellow, and background is dark (unseeable).
Transition: camera zoom out to show full room from a height, long shot
[Rest of Page 2 Ė labeled Page 3]
Long shot of the room shows protagonist with his back towards the camera, sitting on a wooden chair, head low (reflects weariness and exhaustion), hands and legs tied behind his back with a piece of rope. His hair is ruffled and thereís a small (almost negligible) splatter of blood by one of the legs of the chair. Clothes Ė modern day youth attire, jeans and t shirt. pref dark colors.
Artist Note: draw 3 separate frames for the light effect to show. When lamp is to the left, it shows half the protagonistís body, the other half is dimmed/shadowed etc. Audio reveals rusty metal creaking as it moves.
Transition: jump cut to page 4
This shot will focus straight on the protagonist and capture his full length head to toe sitting on chair. Everything around him/behind him is dark otherwise.
Artist Note: draw 3 frames of protagonist as light swings left, mid and right.
This scene will have a lot of character detail. Protagonistís face is slightly lowered, hair ruffled and covering one eye slightly. Lots of shadows/dark mood. Face/cheeks lightly scathed from a fight.
Audio: hear footsteps in distance, getting closer. Mumbling and cackling.
Auto-Transition: pan right, camera zoom out, long shot
Shot shows protagonistís face on the left bottom corner of the panel, facing towards camera, his eyes sparkling in anticipation. The door is behind him, angled to the right of the panel. Bright light emanates from the door, left agape.
Door Opens, lets in very bright light. Two silhouettes (emerge into focus, slowly. Still at door) Footsteps closer, louder.
Shot of thugs walking in, close door behind them. Two panels on same page as they get closer to the camera/come into focus. Their features more distinct by the end of it. They are having a conversation Artist Note: draw animated/amused/talking faces
Thug1: So youíre telling me, you took down 3 nightops SWAT with nothing but a fire extinguisher?
Thug2: Yea, yeah. I just took this fire extinguisher, yeah, and just tossed it real hard yeah, the thing just fulminated
<door closing> incoming light is decreasing, as it closes
<voices> get louder as time progresses
Thug1: Fulma wha?
Thug2: Fulminate, ya know, like blow up or sumthin.
Thug1: You got that from the chief, didnít ya?
Thug2: You always..oh.. wait a sec, I think ken-boy is moving.
This page consists of smaller panels floating around, standard graphic novel style.
Shot from slight angle, looking down Ė shows protagonist on chair, thugs standing behind him. Door closed in distance with light streaming in from top/bottom like before. Area around them is still very dark. Lamp above is not moving anymore, but creates a lighted perimeter around the chair.
Artist Note: Shadows are important here- thugs standing behind are half bathing in light, and half in dark, cant see faces, lights illuminated in dark to visualize where they stand
Thug 1 in focus, preferably top quarter of body. Face shows feigned authority, as he speaks to the protagonist.
Thug1: Rise and shine, pretty boy.
Animate protagonistís face to show speech in determined expression.
Choice a) Protagonist: Who are you? Why have I been inTERNed?
Choice b) Stay silent
< chair movement>
Response to choice a)
Longer shot, show thugs standing behind protagonist, laughing/amused at a comment.
Protagonist is speaking with confidence and hinted arrogance.
Thug 2: Hahaha
Thug 1: College boy here thinks heís on a job interview, wants an INternship! Haha I thought college kids were smart n all
Animate protagonistís face to show speech in determined expression.
Protagonist: Iím sorry I didnít have the privilege to learn from ďmerry andrewsĒ like yourselves.
Both thugs close up, wide shot. Oneís face is agape at loss of words, the other has a very confused expression.
[Page 8] <enter antagonist>
Wide shot, focus on hands, clapping. 2 shots pref. of clap
Wide shot, focus on walking/moving feet (expensive/stylish looking leather shoes). Movement is linear towards the right
<Foot steps on concrete>
2 shots of bossís right facial profile as he speaks. Wearing a mask of some sort (left to artistís discretion). Mask should sufficiently cover identity.
Show lips drawn on mask, with slits for eyes on mask.
Antagonist: Merry Andrew, noun, for a clown-like person. Origins traced back to the time of Henry the 8th. Term designated for impersonators of Henry 8thís Physician Andrew Borde.
Antagonist : Intern, a word with more than one meaning, a heteronym if you will. INtern, someone enrolled as an apprentice. inTERN, a verb denoting action of taking one captive.
*soft in background* Thug2: *mumble*..yeah I knew that
<footsteps halt to attention>
Direct shot of protagonistís face, reflecting anger and frustration. Sweat on brow more pronounced. Possibly snarling.
Long shot of antagonist standing behind protagonist. Expressions are key here. Antagonist is confident, smirking. Protagonist is angry.
Full length shot of the antagonist hovering in light and shadows, alone, holding his cane with both hands (see storyboard image for reference). He is speaking.
Antagonist : Courage is fire Kenneth, and bullying is smoke.
Close up shot of antagonistís face. Shows scar closer to one eye. Lips caught in speech movement and evil smirk/curve up on the corners.
Wide shot of protagonist, snickering, lips show speech.
Protagonist: So you must be ďchiefĒ
<footsteps circle protagonist>
Show every character in room, angled from the right or left side. Protagonist in middle, antagonist right in front of him, facing him, holding cane. Thugs right behind protagonist. Dialogue.
Shot-->Antagonist: Good, that takes care of introductions. Letís get to the deep of it.
Shot-->Protagonist: Iíd rather get to the end of it
Antagonist: It ends with you telling me where it is.
a) What is ďitĒ?
b) I donít know what youíre talking about
c) It ends with YOU telling me where it is.
Response to b)
Shot--> Antagonist: Your eyes tell another tale, Kenneth. Fortunately, the girl has already shared this tale with meÖ<sound someone reaching into pocket>
you might recognize this
Three sub panels, 2 vertical, split page in half, one third of the page is for a horizontal panel at the bottom.
Antagonistís hand, holding a chain which has a green gem pendant at the end. Make pendant as detailed as possible. Itís an antique/heirloom. (we can provide references for jewelry style)
Protagonistís torso, his face reads anger and shock. Donít make it over dramatic, since the protagonist is still trying to hold back his feelings and true reaction. <angry squirming grr sounds>
Horizontal bottom sub-panel
Show protagonistís hands tied in withered rope. Demonstrate movement/friction as he tries to set himself free by rubbing wrists together. <rope friction noises>
Wrists break free from rope, dramatic. Wide panel in the middle of the page.
<snapped rope sounds>
Show protagonist standing up, chair still straight because legs are tied to it. Show punch flying at antagonist and his cane is rising for defense.
Close up shot of arm and antagonistís torso. <whoosh sounds, chair movement sounds>
Punch hitting antagonistís face, show mask coming off slightly, not enough to show even half face.
3 dramatic shots of mask showing it flipping and falling down to the ground. <plastic hits concrete sound>
Show antagonistís cane dragging protagonistís punching arm down
Show cane moving arm closer to leg <clunk sound>
Image of handcuffs
Shot of 2nd arm tied to leg with handcuffs <clunk>
Show protagonist tied to chair in awkward position (see storyboard), and show chair in motion from weight imbalance. <falls with a thud>
Sub-Panel top left corner
Show antagonist evil smirk, holding cane up towards lamp.
Face half shadowed/canít discern features. Hanging lamp swings behind him, uses cane to break lamp.
Sub-Panel bottom right corner
Show protagonist on floor, fallen sideways
<lamp creaking sounds become irregular, bulb smashes>
<lamp breaking sound>
Angtagonist: Lights out Kenneth.
Darkness. Only dim light coming from open door.
<hear 3 pairs of footsteps leaving . Barrel falling to ground is heard. Hear liquid pouring. >
<voices> They sound distant
Thug 2: Chief shall I fulminate the place?
Antagonist: *sigh* Just light it up
Thug 2: Yes Sir!
Complete black screen
Protagonist monologue: In complete darkness, we are all the same. It is only our knowledge and wisdom that separates us. Donít let your eyes deceive youÖ
Opens eyes, they are Blue. darkness all around. Protagonist can see in the dark, but everything is a hue of blue (like green is for night vision)
Protagonist looks at the door way, show long shot with many details. In the door way you see a blue silhouette of thug 2, holding a lit lighter. Liquid fuel all over the floor. Lots of detail in room Ė room is full of barrels lined against the walls (BARRELS EVERYWHERE). Barrels labeled with foreign (Arabic) text (they say flammable), some are lying open, liquid pouring out. Show protagonistís torso from behind, he is facing the door. Thug 2 drops lighter.
Zoom into lighter, fade to first sequence in drop, then second, then third when it is about to hit the liquid.
A few quick notes:
- You are a bit too generous with your pacing. This reads like a first scene, but it drags on too long. I wouldn't give it more than 8 pages, and it takes up twice as much. You should use more structure while scripting: break down each page to panels and describe them, and that will help you determine what moments to show to illustrate an action. Make your script tighter! Make sure you don't have a "filler" page, or beat, hiding there.
- Watch out for those "audio" sounds! At one point, if I recall correctly, you even refer to the "sound of somebody reaching into their pocket" or something. Unless you are planning a digital comic with actual sound, this isn't going to happen. "footsteps circle protagonist" is another hard one, would take too many panels to do, but footsteps in general are not great in comics.
-Describe characters on the actual panel where they enter the story, and not at the beginning. It makes it hard to remember what Thug 1 looks like, pages later, and nobody likes to go back and re-read. Also, it helps if you name characters. Even if it's not a real name, "Protagonist" is too bland, and not very exciting. It doesn't have to be "James", but try "Young Man", or "Survivor" or something that describes him in a way.
-Since printed comics have physical pages, it's wise to build on the turning of the page. What you refer to as a "jump cut" can be achieved when the reader turns an uneven page to the even page (example: from page 3 to page 4). Not sure what "transition" refers to in a graphic novel script.
Of course, you have very nice beats in there, I like what you are doing with the swinging lamp, it is a moody set indeed. Great reveal at the end, and I even like the smart-ass character lecturing the thugs as an educational tool. The story IS interesting, it's a good start, just needs a couple more drafts.
I hope this helps!
Last edited by hellospaceboy; 07-23-2012 at 12:46 PM.
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